English 8115, Technical Writing


Class Meetings  
Office Hours  
Phone and E-mail  

This syllabus provides a general plan for the course; deviations may be necessary.

Course Goals

English 8115 aims to help you develop the skills you will need to write scientific and technical documents successfully. The course will introduce you to the rhetorical principles and compositional practices necessary for writing effective and professional communications, such as reports, instructions, and documentation, within your own profession, including

  • writing to multiple readers for various purposes
  • writing in real world contexts that require collaborative action
  • using computer technology to develop technical documents
  • developing ethical and responsible writing strategies
  • advocating user needs for documents
  • planning and managing short- and long-term writing projects
  • designing and implementing appropriate research strategies
  • following and adjusting technical writing conventions
  • developing effective scientific and technical style and tone
  • designing documents (e.g., layout, formatting, incorporating graphics/visuals into documents)
Course Format Given the nature of a technical writer's work, the course will involve both individual and collaborative assignments. You will be expected to apply the principles learned in class to your knowledge of your own field of study and/or work. The course will involve a variety of class periods when you will have the freedom and responsibility to complete tasks at your own discretion.
Required Texts Haramundanis, Katherine. (1998). The Art of Technical
. Boston: Digital.

Class Materials

You will need to following materials for this class:

  • two 3.5" high-density disks, formatted for IBM-compatible computers
  • an e-mail account (can be from GSU or a commercial/work provider; we will use this for e-mail correspondence and web pages so the account must be set up to do both)
Mini Documentation Project 10% (group)
Documentation Project 25% (group)
user test plan, recommendation report and documentation
Technical Report 45% (individual)
proposal, project plan, final report and presentation
Web Pages - Online Research in Technical Writing 20% (individual)
individual research report, web plan, web pages

Assignments will be graded on the standard letter scale of A, B, C, D, F. During the course of the quarter, I will also use pluses and minuses to give you a clearer picture of where your grade stands in the range possible for that letter. I will use the "A" and "B" grades to distinguish professional quality work. These documents are those which meet the audience's needs and are of a quality that could be handed out in a workplace setting.

Grades will be based on the general criteria below and on the specific criteria discussed in class for each assignment. These criteria and our discussions in class are your best guides to what I expect from an assignment.

We will discuss specific criteria for each assignment in class, but the following general criteria will be used for grading:

  • how effectively does the document accomplish its intended task?
    (this may include meeting reader's needs, meeting its organizational goals, providing a sound rationale and thorough treatment of the topic, and providing useful and accurate information.)
  • how well constructed is the document?
    (this refers to orderly and coherent presentation of material, effective design and formatting, appropriate use of visuals, and professional style and tone.)
  • how effectively was the document produced?
    (this relates to the quality of planning, collaboration, research, drafting, editing, and proofreading.)

For each project, you will turn in a portfolio of work, including at least one draft, a final version, and an assessment memo explaining the document purpose/task, the construction of the document, and its production. For group projects, you will also complete a group evaluation, assessing your own contribution to the project and that of your group members. Group projects will typically be given one grade, but individual group participation will be factored into the grade of each member. Therefore, I reserve the right to give different grades to individuals based on poor and/or disruptive performance.

Late assignments will be downgraded one letter per business day late, unless arrangements have been made for a late turn-in before the class in which the assignment is due. You can not come to class and expect to have a later due date at the last minute without some penalty. Last minute emergencies, such as printing or disk problems, are not acceptable reasons for late work. You should always plan in enough time to proofread work, as well as have it printed (if it is a print document).


Class attendance is required. You are expected to be in class on time and to be ready to work when you arrive. This is not only what is expected of you by the university, it is also the standard in the workplace. We will often work on projects and in groups during the term and there is no substitute for your presence in class.

If you miss more than three classes during the term, your final grade will be dropped a letter grade for lack of participation and professionalism . Being late for class or leaving early is also unprofessional conduct and counts as an absence.

Absences covered by university policy are, of course, allowed. And emergencies happen. If you know you will not be able to make it to class, call or e-mail me as soon as possible. We can then arrange for you to make up missed work. You are responsible for contacting your group in the event of an absence to make arrangements to do your share of the group's work.

Documents You are expected to produce high-quality professional documents. A part of that quality is the appearance of your work. Your assignments should be printed at least in a minimum standard of 300 dpi. Laser printing is recommended. Your documents should have appropriate margins, spacing, and formatting for the type of document you are turning in. there should be no obvious last-minute changes to the work (i.e. use of white out or hand written information).

MWF Course Plan

Eng 8115 main page